This week’s photo essay is by Kristen Ng, a Chengdu-based promoter and musician who runs the offbeat touring label Kiwese, facilitates live music programming at NU SPACE Chengdu and performs electronic music as Kaishandao. She’s selected seven snaps from her recent nationwide tour with New Zealand’s The All Seeing Hand: hardcore slow train tour life.

Destroyed by the post-gig beers and barbecue ritual in Baotou, most were bleary-eyed and nursing 1.5L bottles of Nongfu Spring water. Enter: Hohhot shaomai — steamed puff dumpling pastries filled with succulent minced lamb, ginger and spring onions. Mouthwateringly good.

We’d made it to DeepSwing — a little record store and bar in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, run by local DJ Goofy’s Day and friends. A tattoo gun buzzed away on practice pigskin; clinks of beer and NOS cans fed the rhythms of hip-hop and deep house. Tucked away in a courtyard near some cheap restaurants, they manage to host regular parties despite frequent noise complaints from the residents upstairs.

Chat flowed in Mongolian with smatterings of Mandarin. Nearby shop signs were all identical in size, written in Chinese and Mongolian with bizarre phrases like “宾馆门诊教育小土豆” (“hotel outpatient education mini potato”). I was later told the authorities condensed all the shop names together into unified boards in an effort to revamp the city. As one of the only underground music spots in Hohhot, DeepSwing is a diamond in the rough, with its custom neon sign glowing bright.

“Is this mural based on the Bible?”

“No, a DMT trip.”

Above is a photo of Alphabethead throwing down his hybrid turntable set to a psyched up crowd of regulars — students, artists, dancers, DJs… It felt like a party at someone’s flat, a tiny concrete room at the back of a DIY record store in Hohhot with all these amazing people we just met. This is why we tour.

TOUR TIP #2: For long train rides, get dumplings or shaomai takeaway and dunk them in your fangbianmian (pot noodles) to make them feel more like an actual meal.